Saturday, December 29, 2007

Randoms: Covering Pakistan The Right Way

I tend to praise Philip Reeves on these pages quite a bit because, in spite of his colleagues, he refuses to give an NPR spin to his reportage from South Asia.

This morning it was sort of strange, in a good way, to hear him covering the jolting post-Bhutto events in Pakistan, because he sticks to what is known and what he has observed rather than getting mucked up in a bunch of speculative gobbledegook. I suppose that's old-fashioned. Works for me, though.

The NPR Spin always seems to try and have stuff 'figured out', as if they're one step ahead of the players in current events. It's always so show-offy and mock-clever. Is that what 'in depth' reporting is supposed to be? Can you imagine having Ari-Conditioned Shapiro or Mara-Mara Liarson in Karachi right now??

Contrasted with Linda Wertheimer's martini-glass-and-cigarette-holder drawl (who does she wannabe, Tallulah Bankhead??), Mr Reeves sounds traditionally straight-as-an-old-BBC-arrow in his objective reports. A clear and steady voice is needed in the current turmoil, and Reeves is the man. He's the only reason that I'm following Pak events on NPR right now. He isn't buying in to this Frank Luntz-ish 'Most Dangerous Nation' classification BS.

(I ask you, WHO is the most dangerous nation in the world?)

PS: As most of us would agree, there are worse chattering pieholes at NPR than Dame Linda, like, surprise, surprise, Little Bobby Siegel and his sickening attempts at sounding like some super-intellectual transatlantic don - or whuteveh. I know, you think I've got it out for Sir Robert, but I just had to squeeze that in.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Very Mafia Assassination - With A New PS


Fig 1. BBC Screen Shot, 27 Dec. 07

Benazir Bhutto's assassination is based on two forces in conflict in Pakistan.

The first is dynastic. As the daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the Prime Minster who was overthrown by Gen. Zia al-Huq, and subsequently hanged, Benazir had an imperative of avenging his death. After several years as Pakistan's Chief Martial Law Administrator, Zia was bumped off in a plane crash. Daughter Benazir then swept into power. After two terms of Benazir's premiership, and that of Nawaz Sharif, the reactive military regained power in the person of Pervez Musharraf. As his tenure has gone on though, the inevitable shift draws nigh.

The pattern is steady. It is emotional but logical. Cause and effect in the control of power. In India, the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty has gone through their own epic saga of similarities. But of course, power dynasties are to be found in every part of the world.

The second force is geopolitical. The bare facts are these: Bush's regional policies have destabilized Pakistan more than it has consistently been in the past. Higher stakes in the region have tempted power players into more overt action. Iraq, of course, is the most blatant example of this aggressive meddling. Failures in Afghanistan - at Tora Bora, which enabled the realignment of al-Qaeda, and the return of the Taliban, have transferred elements of higher-level conflict to Pakistan. This has allowed for violence to be portable and effective amidst a challenging physical environment, which has in fact never come under any consistent control, either by the British, or the Pakistani government. Also, the elimination of Bhutto as a potential alternative to Musharraf has solidified the latter's position, which is attractive to Bush & Associated Interests. Much more reliable than Saddam ever was as a partner, Musharraf can pose as a restorer of democracy, but in actuality can now bolster his power and remain Bush's malleable and cooperative partner.

The overarching movements here are primitive, though Shakespearean. Dynastic power. Overthrow. Revenge. Consolidation of power. Cyclical. Tit for tat. Primitive - but classic.

Colloquially, I refer to the current pattern as Mafia-istic. This is because it is a simple process of elimination of rivals and/or enemies if they are a threat, or could become a threat. Banal-but-true fact: Mafia tactics are employed by many forces in the world, both governmental and non-governmental. This elementary fact is essential to keep prominent if any understanding past media obfuscation is to be had.

George W. Bush essentially employed the same tactics with Saddam - who didn't stay 'bought' - as a reaction to his father's run-in with Saddam and the attempted assassination of Bush Sr afterwards, all in the name of justice and democracy. The same Mafia principles are in play. Corporate interests have naturally benefited, as well as the elites involved, who value power over anything else. Very little interpretation is needed to understand this.

I am simplifying a seemingly complex situation because it is, in fact, simple. Elements such as BushCorp and Associated Interests would have us believe that this is all part of their 'War on Terror', but it is actually yet another product of their obfuscation of grander strategies for control and dominance of important regions and nations of the world. If they are not directly culpable in events like this, they are certainly influential, based on their agendas.

Other regional conflicts tend to be overlooked by the west. The Kashmir situation with India has proceeded on and off for over 60 years. These days, in the western mainstream media, India is hardly mentioned in connection with Pakistan, except to note that the two are nuclear-armed. This is partly because of India's booming economy, which promises to be a growing market for western corporate interests. On the other hand, Pakistan seems to be regarded as an 'expendable' terrain, not so important economically, but certainly as an acceptable front for the deception and smoke screen actions of the 'War on Terror'. Such a war serves the purposes of larger interests, which one can only hint at, due to their sophistication in self-interested operations.

Finally, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto is a great loss. Condolences then, to her children and other family members, and all those who followed her in Pakistan. Every leader is flawed, but her presence as a political force was important and needful. The shock of such an event soon gives way to an apolitical sadness. Behind the loss, however, there are winners. It is vital to keep this perspective in mind.

PS: And now, with the JFK-like variations as to the actual cause of her death, suspicion and theories will only grow. They can certainly grow, but what can be done with them? The preposterous story that Ms Bhutto hit her head on the sunroof 'lever' is gallows humor at its blackest. What contemporary vehicle's electrically-operated sunroof has a 'lever'? Even 1960s VW Beetles and Peugeot 404s did not have 'levers'. They had cranks that didn't get in anyone's way. But explanations like this one are extremely typical of Mafia methods. And with Pervez Musharraf having done a Bush-like commandeering of the Pak courts, it is highly unlikely that her body will be exhumed for a proper autopsy. Such a procedure might reveal that, in the midst of external diversions, a bullet was coldly and efficiently pumped through her brain, probably from inside the vehicle. It's all very cinematic, isn't it? Choose your scenario. Not only was Ms Bhutto's wagon 'fixed', to use pop Mafia terminology, but all attendant evidence has been seen to as well. Thus was the Final Solution for the Bhutto alternative carried out with complete success. For the present, anyway.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Candidate Review! Mediocre, Dull Fred


Fig.1:
He: How do you like my manly bulletproof vest, Jeri?
She: Oh, what I'm really admiring is your manly head of distinguished grey hair!!
He: Lick my comb, baby! Your hair's actually greasier than mine! Birds of a feather...know what I mean?
Fred: (from offstage) But I thought you liked balding virile types, Jeri! Jeri? But, it's OK, your hand's in mine. Honey?
He: I'm free, now that Shaha's dumped me.
She: Maybe I can find your comb if I just...feel up your...vest a bit...oooh...!
Fred: (from further offstage) Jeri? Honey...? Where's your hand?



Fig.2: Now THIS is the kind of bald president to have!


Fred Thompson! You're an actor - actor/pontificator
And representative of all the race;
Although 'tis true you turned out a Neocon/Backwards-Facing/Shrunken-Minded Republican at
Last, - yours has lately been a common case;
And now, my Epic Renegade! what are ye at?

(With deep apologies to My Lord Byron)

Our casually-named prez selection is right on schedule. Fred, Freddy, Freddie, Frud, anything except Frederick. 'Frederick' sounds like a Prussian (and homosexual) king in the 1700s or something.

I don't believe I've ever seen Fred in anything on stage or screen. Scanning his IMDb list, I guess I have, but he scarcely stands out in my mind. There are those who say 'oh, he's been in everything,' but no he hasn't. Just because he's on that popular lawyer show, which I've never seen, DOESN'T MEAN he's 'been in everything'.

Even Ronald Reagan had 'King's Row' and 'Santa Fe Trail' under his belt ('Bonzo' needn't be mentioned, don't you think?). Fred Thompson? He's got 'Day-O' and 'Curly Sue'. (OK, he had small roles in Scorsese's excellent 'Cape Fear' and also 'Hunt for Red October', which was pretty good, but THAT'S IT.)

So Fred's largely a pontificator. I don't like him in the least. I don't care for his slag-pile appearance, his lousy attempt at feigning a hound-dog voice with it's folksy relaxed inflexions, and his supposed 'charisma' that leads people to think he doesn't have to prove himself.

Plus! He has nothing whatsoever to offer politically. Nothing original, or fresh, or helpful. He's a tiresome and worthless figure that was wheeled out on stage to supposedly pep a hopeless group up, but the effort is a failure, and Fred will have to drift back to San Fernando Valley where the gigs still are. But watch it Fred, due to your brief but lard-ass excursion back to DC, those kids running the studios now might not know who you are anymore. 'What's a Fred Thompson?' they're bound to say. Just like they did with Rod Steiger. No one knew who he was when he was looking for a job.

Now Rod Steiger - there's an idea. Rod Steiger would make a mucking FANTASTIC prez! He'd get us out of our heap 'a trouble, that's for sure. But Rod's dead! Do you hear me, ROD STEIGER IS DEAD.

Fred's trophy wife, Jeri, gets a lot of attention, natch. She may be an okay person, but I severely question anybody who would get cuddly with my good buddy Paul the Ersatz Wolf. Look at him in Fig.1! Jeri's got him by his holey socks, but he's obviously trying to hide his terror by, I don't know, puffing up or something. Failures tend to do that. Go, Jeri, GO!!
Oh, and where's Fred to defend Paul?

Forget Fred. Just download Fig. 2, put it on your desktop, sigh, and dream about what might've been...

The Chief's Ding Dong School


Fig 1: Real Learning Starts Here

99's got it right, 86. And the Chief looks like he's got some pondering to do.

Seriously:

I think this whole tape destruction of interrogation sequences at Gitmo story is a White House plot to punish the CIA/intelligence community for delivering the credible report, just a few days earlier, regarding Iran's non-nukes. The tape destruction story, odious as it is, pales in comparison. Dick & Co wanted war badly. Now THEY've been hornswoggled, so now CIA must pay. The premise for the tapes falling into the wrong hands is absurd. Security storage, even at the leaky CIA, can no doubt be maximized to sci-fi dimensions. Just think of the stuff being stored at the CIA that we HAVEN'T seen yet! The media should not be deceived by this 'shocking' tapes story. BushCorp wants everybody to get hung up on it while the real biggie, Iran, looms in the background.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Candidate Review! You Keep Sounding The Alarm, Dennis!



Fig 1:
She: If you do all the things you promise, you may take me to the fair.
He: Impeach!
She: If you can carry out your program, you may guide me to the show.
He: Withdraw!
She: I do applaud your noble goals, now let us see if you achieve them.
(with apologies to Lerner & Loewe)


As a Mosaic character, Dennis Kucinich has little in common physically with Chuck Heston. But the power that emanates from that little guy could, or should part the Red Sea, for crying out loud.

I'm not going to run on about Dennis. Because, I don't really think it's appropriate to give him equal mockery or the playful time that I give others running for prez right now. It's because, when you examine the actual substance of DK's agenda, statements and causes, he emerges as not only sensible, but he is proof that we need someone with his depth of understanding to actually steer the country away from the corrupt lifestyles and agendas that have overwhelmed the corridors of power more than ever. He's so right-on that, as far as his rivals are concerned, he must and shall be portrayed as a kook and an oddball who is nothing more than a Don Quixote to chuckle at (if anyone knows who Don Q is or what he was trying to do...). Ever since the Reagan years, which were a backlash against the '60s, conventionality has been the comfort zone; fitting in is where it's at. Curiously, this runs counter to the Great American Tradition of Individualism. Enlightened individualism, combined with responsible independence, is where transcendent advancement is born. Not to elevate Dennis on too high a plane, but his progressive stance on many issues is true forward thinking. It's actual planning ahead, instead of gamboling in what I call Lunge Methodology, that is, getting all you can as fast as you can, and the hell with everybody else. American civilization was founded on E Pluribus Unum, not gimme, gimme, gimme. Dennis isn't the only one who seems interested in sticking to our needful guidelines, but boy, look at his record. He's hung right in there in all the right progressive issues. He makes Dubya's much-vaunted resolute factor look like the delusional cosmology of a goofus who can't even run a popcorn machine, let alone a massive ship of state.

Did anyone see Dennis give Donny Rumsfeld a very fine tongue lashing in one of many hearings last year? You had to go to C-SPAN and dig it out, but I tell ya, Rummy was rendered almost speechless by Dennis' pit bull interrogation, and he accomplished this excellent task without resorting to 'controlled drowning'.

Yes, he's got an impressive trophy wife, a lustily-elegant Renaissance fair of a lady (and a helluva lot sexier than all of, say, Ghouliani the Mug's grotesque seraglio plastered together). But the thing is, Elizabeth K. is really cool. Has anyone heard her talk about stuff? Her depth and quality of understanding issues and trends and overviews is a comfort and a joy. For example, given the opportunity, she could advise about India and Africa, health care, and North/South matters much more helpfully and coherently than any jackass 'specialist' now on the scene. She stands about three feet higher than Dennis the Squirt, and they were married in beautiful downtown Cleveland (plenty of pictures of that not unpleasant-looking event are viewable), but their non-conventionality refreshes more than it inspires jocularity. Boring they are not. Their dialogues, together or independently, are intelligent, well-researched, and reasonable. A joke they are not. DK has a twinkle in his eye though, and that's often why the media pigeonholes him as a curio. But we have the web, and we can leave behind the MainStream Media in about two shakes of a cyber-lamb's tail in order to check out Dennis more fully. I humbly suggest that more caring Americans get to work in doing so, rather than relying on the lazy-ass couch-hog's consumerist devouring of media drivel when it comes to sizing-up this here prezzy mule-race.

Don't brand me as a Dennis-oid. I just have an old fashioned wish for this nation to succeed, especially at this crucial juncture. As Joseph Cotton said in 'Duel in the Sun', 'I'd like to give back something to this country rather than just take from it'. The great Lionel Barrymore, who plays his ultra-conservative dad, explodes: 'Jesse? I don't know what you're talking about!!!'

We know that Dennis will not be president. But he could be, and yes, he should be.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Candidate Review! Ron, Or Paul?



Fig. 1: This is Kate Walsh; she was in the same room as Ron Paul for a time, and she’s better looking than he is, too.

In a town that I know but shall not name, there's a sleazy junk food drive-in called Ron's Taco. The parking lot is stained with upchuck and other unmentionable signs of distress in the lower tract. Makes you wonder what Ron's serving up, though the customers seem to keep coming.

Question: is Ron Paul a Ron's Taco-grade candidate for the high office of president of these United States?

Superficial thoughts first. Name game again. Casual is still the name of that game, isn’t it? Not Ronald, but Ron. Ron Paul it is. (Reagan would flip; despite his many deserved epithets, his team's decision to keep him Ronald was an effective coat of teflon that kept things relatively presidential.) We have had a president named Ronald, so it is conceivable that we could have a president named Ron. We will not, however, EVER - as I’ve said before – EVER have a president named ‘Mitt’. Nor will we ever have a president’s son named ‘Tagg’. Boy, I’m glad we can put THAT controversy to bed!

So, this here Ron Paul guy . . .

Ron Paul looks like he might have been sketched, sans the doughboy attire, by Bill Mauldin, but he has one effective touch to his appearance: plenty of Potomac Grey in that Stewart Granger-like 'do'. As a matter of fact, Granger could play Ron in a biopic. He'd really give the guy a dignified flair. Alas Stewart is no longer with us. All the actors are in DC now.

Anyway:

The existence of Ron Paul as an active candidate for president is as sure a sign as any that the decline of the USA is in full process, and it is probably irreversible.

In other words, he's a fellow speaking up about all sorts of matters that need truthful examination, yet he has no chance whatsoever of attaining the office he seeks. That's a sheer sign of a great nation in decline. When said great nation is reduced to having its controllers connected to high-level networks of corruption, and others without the connections but bold enough to come forward (e.g. Ron), the practice of free speech is being enacted on a token level only, as the unconnected candidate is merely being tolerated for the moment. The connected candidates know that these pesky fleas will soon run out of money and then the big boys (Hillary included) can get on with their hog race unencumbered by truth-flinging fuddy-duddies.

For Ron's got the guts to spread some unpleasant truths before the public. To me he will always have a special place of endearment by flat-out condemning the Iraq War, and he occupies a special category of shocking the garter belt off of Rudy Ghouliani by truthfully declaring that 9/11 happened as a result of American foreign policy. (And American foreign business practices, I might add.)

Now listen up, folks. Ron's an interesting guy, plainly a kindly guy, a bold and refreshing guy - for a politician. He's saying stuff that's welcome to both sides of the aisle. He's a skinny OB/GYN doc to boot (though after Doctor Bill 'Frist-Fry' Frist's pollution of the Senate, physicians do not necessarily heal the weeping sores of Congress, nor themselves, either). Doctor Paul, MD. No doubt he's brought many a plump and bawling baby into the world. Drama he knows. But he doesn't want gun control.

But that's not the point here. He can talk about all these things, but he will be contested, shot down and quickly forgotten. Remember John Anderson? Ross Perot? John Anderson was a Republican who was decent, responsible, humble, and straight-talking. It was during the (Ron) Reagan years, and I voted for him, I’m proud to say. He would have made a good president. Perot? He shook things up, but that's all he did. Ron Paul? He said stuff that other Republicans wouldn't say. That's because Ron's a Libertarian, and is a Republican in label only. Libertarian. He's open about it, and that's good, but people should understand what Libertarian really means.

I saw Ron on 'The View', and he was asked what he thought of abortion rights, given that he doesn't want government involved in our lives. Of course the conditions of this non-involvement (and the very mention of it is crowd-pleasing), are circumscribed by his own personal tastes. Ron danced around the Roe v. Wade issue with all the grace of a Ray Bolger - scarecrowish, but rubbery. He has a brain, though. (Guest co-host Kate Walsh - seen in the attractive Art Nouveau-ish colour plate above - didn’t even have a chance to verbally beat him up. Keep trying, Katey-lass!)

But here’s the bottom line about Ron Paul. Ron wants government out of our lives. Got it. There’s a whole other mega-side to this anti-gov thing though. He also wants it out of the business world. The latter is of much greater importance – exponentially greater – than those trifling social issues that get most of the media attention. WARNING: Ron Paul is playing with hydrofluoric acid; he doesn’t have any idea of what he’s getting into. Big government is certainly something to be concerned about, especially after Dubya’s triumphant success in inflating our government with more Bloat Factor ™ pork material – everything except the oink – into the government’s sclerotic veins, making it the biggest single entity in the history of the universe. HOWEVER, removing any regulative training wheels or shock collars that barely keep the hydrophobic hyenas of big business ostensibly in line is sheer madness. He is a na├»ve fellow and should be spanked, then sent to his chamber without his dinner or his pudding.

Verdict: Ron is a Ron’s Taco-grade candidate.

Sorry Ron.

Next!

Candidate Review! Hillary-Hill-Tra-La-Tra-La!



Fig. 1: Junior Senator - ready to govern, ready to care

There are those who hate, Hate, HATE, Hate, hate Hillary Rodham Clinton, but I'm not one of them. She isn't interesting enough to hate or even spend much time critiquing. Hers is the blandness of a Chevy or a Ford, an evening at Applebee's or County Buffet. Everything is mid-range, average, unmemorable. Oh sure, the media makes her into some kind of controversy lint trap, but she's pretty dull. But I'm sure even her most toxic-slimed-fanged haters might concede that she is pretty smart, though. That's usually reason to hate a person even more.

Smart like the lawyer she is. Attention to detail - details never fail to impress. During a case, juries get pretty pliable if a lawyer can pull a Ruthenian Barking Hare out of a hat, as opposed to the same pink-eyed bunny seen on both Ted Mack's Amateur Hour and American Idol. Hillary's got the stuff to do that, plus she's built like a vanadium shithouse. That gal's got stamina. Hell, she could probably bat dainty Rudy's clogged up little prostate right out of Yankee Stadium. But that sort of persona really freaks men out. I think Rudy starts lisping uncontrollably if he thinks about her too much, as he can't quite enunciate 'stupid, scary bitch!' effectively as he cries into his pillow each night. Rudy stares over at his frock hanging on the closet door and wonders if he really should consider pant suits, to compete more effectively...

Where was I?

I remember seeing Hillary on TV when she was at the funeral of Mother Teresa in Calcutta. She just sat there, sweating, doing nothing, but the solemnity of the occasion didn't even seem to occur to her. She projected the feeling of 'I'd rather be ANYWHERE but here right now, so I'm just going to faux-zen my way through this thing...' - or something. I didn't feel sorry for her because she looked like she was doing the gig as a tiresome duty rather than experiencing something extraordinary from being in the same room with a departed saint. Must've been a long flight. And the ride in from Dum Dum airport is enough to blow even a health caring First Lady's fusebox out of commission. Healthcare? For all those . . . beggars? It's the economy, stupid! Besides, it takes a village. It certainly does in Calcutta. I'm not so sure about DC, though. At any rate, she's a bore.

She's a Chicagoian, from that metropolitan mixture of reasonableness (Kurt Vonnegut! Sy Hersh! Susan Sontag!) and neocon horror (U. of Chicagah's creepshow includes Paul 'The Comb' Whatsitswitz, 'Not-so-Norm' Podhoritz, 'Uncle' Miltie Friedman, Tony 'The Claw' Scalia, 'Modest' John Ashcroft, David 'Snaggletooth' Brooks, Leo 'Godfather' Strauss...and you can look up more in Wikipedia, like I did). At any rate, she did her Peace Corps gig in Arkansas, as First Lady of that place, then got the hell on up to DC, and then NYC, faster than a hog takes to its wallow. All very calculated, all very successful. What's wrong with that? Gotta climb ladders in this world, especially if you're wielding a Chicago Pneumatic jackhammer to bust a glacier-thick glass ceiling without plummeting into the River Styx below.

However, when it comes to Hillary, I'm really not too interested in all the gobbledegook I've outlined above. It's her representation that I'm wary of. That is, the interests she represents. I know any prez candidate is going to disappoint me by all of their corporate and other, more shadowy connections, but Ms Clinton's are simply gigantic. Naturally, her connections to supporters are the ones who eschew the BushCorp side of things, but that doesn't mean that they're squeaky and wholesome and straight-arrow. You've got to have Big Money behind you if you want to see (either for the first time, or as a returning resident) what's in the vanity cabinet of the presidential bedroom's bathroom, but you don't have to get there by sugar daddies alone. She just isn't Capra-esque in the least. Too bad. One priggish dynasty in the White House has been enough for this thousand-year reich, thank you very much. But Jimmy Stewart never ran for president. Instead we got Ronald Reagan.

But I digress. Let's talk about more gossipy stuff.

She has chipmunk cheeks and a big bottom - though early daguerotypes of her indicate that she had (has?) a 'pretty nice rack'. But I just can't get into the circus-like tamasha over the clothes and the hair and the Margaret Hamilton cackle analysis (notice how 'The Wizard of Oz' sneaks into these candidate reflections; curious!). No, that's all part of her boring side.

Smartness is important for a president to have. Being boring doesn't matter so much. They made a big deal out of trying to portray Al Gore as a bore, when he's obviously a fascinating dude. Hillary's a bore who's actually a bore, but that doesn't invalidate her. She just wants to be president so bad that nothing else matters. THAT's at the core of her boringness, and that implies that power is all that matters, and that is what she lusts after. Her supporters, both shadowy and sunny, know this about her. That's why they'll go with her, because they know that she'll stop at nothing to get to her goal. Once she does that, then they can dominate her. Sounds pedantic and gothic and about as credible as a higgildy-piggildy rant from a washed-up kindergarten story-teller, but THAT is why I'm wary of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Paul W. To Hang His Comb Under Condi's Care

Great news for me! I still have Wolfie to kick around! Seems he'll be heading up a mega-high quality groove-thang over at State, in order to ADVISE Condi on all the thing's Paulie's so good at.

Question: now that his girlfriend (what the hell was her name again? Oh yeah, Shahahahaha) is at the World Bank (is she?), can she have her old job back at State, or would that be a conflict of Swingers' Etiquette now that Paul's a dippy-lomat again?

At any rate, exciting times for those of us who wish Paul only the best in his stellar string of failures.

So celebrate!